It could have picked London or Hong Kong. Instead, the lingerie retailer that flaunts the vanity factor of its product line chose Abu Dhabi for the launch of its first international store.Frederick's of Hollywood opened up to little fanfare in the UAE capital recently with another outlet set to open soon in Dubai.The choice of venue conveys a lot about the UAE's retail pull. In only a few short years, this Gulf country has emerged as an unlikely first port of call for retailers looking to test their brands overseas."Despite the outward conservative culture, this is a very fashion-conscious market," chairman and CEO of Frederick's, Thomas Lynch, said in a recent interview.Other retailers seem to agree. Crate and Barrel, American Eagle Outfitters, Aeropostale, Pottery Barn and Bloomingdale's each have launched their first stores outside North America in the UAE in the past couple of years.Smaller companies are making the leap too. When Manhattan favourites Shake Shack and Magnolia Bakery decided to take their burgers and red velvet cupcakes overseas, the first city they turned to was Dubai.Retailers and restaurant chains that once shied away from overseas markets are being attracted by the region's deep-pocketed citizens and the growing track records of their Arab franchise partners, who take on many of the costs and much of the legwork that goes into transferring the brand abroad.Frederick's, for instance, is primarily providing "brand support" for an arrangement that envisions 10 stores across the region in the next three years, while Abu Dhabi-based partners, Safeer Establishment, take care of the rest, Lynch says.The UAE has other advantages too, like plenty of high-quality retail space. The country's booming airlines have turned the Emirates into a global crossroads, funnelling armies of guest workers — including Westerners — and millions of tourists into the country's shopping malls each year.A recent surge of new retailers, particularly from the US, has pushed Dubai into the top spot alongside London in terms of market penetration for major retail brands, according to a recent report by real estate firm CB Richard Ellis. On the national level, the UAE is in second place globally, just behind Britain and ahead of the United States.
From / Gulf News